The church tower in the East Frisian town of Suurhusen has been known as the “leaning tower in the world” for 15 years. That record is now gone. A tower in Rhineland-Palatinate is now officially a little more sloping. The East Frisians take it easy – and have one consolation.
A decimal place makes the difference: The “leaning tower in the world” has no longer been in Suurhusen in East Friesland since Sunday (September 11). A defense tower in the municipality of Gau-Weinheim in the district of Alzey-Worms in Rhineland-Palatinate is a little more sloping, as a measurement showed – 0.23 degrees to be precise.
That Record Institute for Germany (RID) now officially recognized this top value. On the Day of the Open Monument, the Rhenish-Hessian community was presented with the world record certificate.
15 years ago, the church tower in Suurhusen in the district of Aurich was named “the most leaning tower in the world” by Guinness World Records Germany. The approximately 27 meter high tower of the 13th-century Evangelical Reformed Church congregation leans 5.19 degrees or 2.47 meters to the west. The medieval defense tower in Gau-Weinheim even has an incline of 5.4277 degrees.
The Leaning Tower of…?
“The officially most leaning tower in the world hasn’t been the one in Pisa for a number of years, even if popular opinion still says otherwise,” said RID record judge Olaf Cake Becker. In 2007, Pisa was replaced by the tower in Suurhusen. “I am very pleased to personally certify the world record today and to award the local community with an RID record certificate.”
So far, thousands of visitors have come to Suurhusen every year to marvel at the leaning church tower – the East Frisians are accordingly proud of their distinctive church tower. The congregation takes the loss of the title with a bit of melancholy, but also calmly. “It’s a fair competition and only one can win, that’s the way it is,” said the pastor of the parish, Frank Wessels, on request. “We carried the title with pride and dignity for 15 years. And if someone else can now prove that the leaning tower is there, then we accept that and congratulate from the bottom of our hearts.”
Suurhusen church tower
The reason for the inclined position of the Suurhusen church tower lies in the thick oak trunks that form the foundation of the building. When the neighboring lands were drained in the 19th century, the groundwater level dropped and the trunks became rotten. Tourists driving to the North Sea coast via Emden will inevitably pass the conspicuously sloping tower via the B 210 federal highway. Even without the title, the attention for the leaning tower of the parish will remain, Wessels suspected.
In recent years there have been repeated objections from home and abroad that the leaning tower could not be in Suurhusen, the pastor reported. However, other towers have not been measured and officially recognized as a record – until now.
«We are still more slate than Pisa»
“If someone else wins, we can handle it well,” said Wessels. Even if the record in Rhineland-Palatinate has now been recognized by another record institute, to his knowledge the tower in Suurhusen is still the most crooked church tower in the world. And: “We are still sloping than Pisa,” emphasized Wessels. The prominent Italian competition is the measure of all things worldwide – the tower there has an inclination of just 4.95 degrees.
By the way, there is hardly any hope that the Suurhusen church tower could overtake the tower in Gau-Weinheim in terms of inclination. Every year, students from the Magdeburg/Stendal University of Applied Sciences measure the building. The result: the inclined position of the tower has been stable for ten years of measurements. “That’s a good thing, because if it kept getting crooked, there would come a critical point at some point,” said Pastor Wessels. (dpa)
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